in 1863, In ill-conceived assault on Port Hudson, La., two Louisiana regiments (First and Third Native Guards) made six gallant but unsuccessful charges on rebel fortification. A Black captain, Andre Cailloux, was hero of the day. --courtesy blackfacts.com
Andre Cailloux, a Black Creole who was born a slave, attained freedom, carved out a niche for himself and his family as an artisan in the antebellum Afro-Creole society of New Orleans, and died a U.S. Army captain and Civil Was hero whose courageous example continue to inspire civil rights activists in New Orleans down into the mid-twentieth century.
The life of Captain Andre Cailloux, a thirty-eight-year-old Afro-Creole had ended two months earlier, on May 27, 1863, as he gallantly led Company E of the 1st Regiment of Louisiana Native Guards in a doomed assault on the Confederate bastion at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
He landed as the nation's first black military hero, one of the first black men to hold an officer's commission in the United States Army, and a member of the first black regiment to be officially mustered into the Union army and to engage in a major battle.
Claude Paschal Maistre one of the earliest white radical voices in New Orleans and practically the sole public champion of abolitionism and racial egalitarianism among the local Catholic clergy.
Maistre would perform the funeral rites of his church in defiance of New Orleans' formidable archbishop, Jean-Marie Ordin, who, like Maistre was a native of France.
A black patriot and a radical white priest: two relatively ordinary men transformed by their responses to the crisis of war into symbols of freedom and hope for people of color in New Orleans and of dangerous radicalism to many southern whites.
To Creoles, this funeral for one of their own attested to their capacity for patriotism, courage, and martial valor. They also intended the public tribute to atone for the desecration of Cailloux's corpse, which had lain neglected and rotting on the battlefield for forty-one days until the surrender of the enemy fortress.
As word of the captain's death had filtered back to New Orleans, women of color had donned crepe rosettes in mourning.
Immediately after the Confederate surrender of Port Hudson, black troops recovered Cailloux's body, identifiable only by a ring in his finger.
Union Officials sent Cailloux's remains, accompanied by wounded members of his regiment, to New Orleans via the steamer Old Essex. Arriving on July 25, the body lay in state in a closed casket for four days in the Urquhart Street hall of the Friends of the Order, a mutual aid society in which Cailloux had played a leading role and whose ring he had worn at the time of his death.
Flowers and lit candles, characteristic of Catholic funeral rites, framed the flag-draped coffin; Cailloux's sword, belt, uniform coat, and cap lay on the flag. A guard solemnly paced back and forth near the casket.
Northern newspapers such as the New York Times, the New York Herald, and Harper's Weekly, which had urged the use of black combat troops in the war, gave extensive coverage to Cailloux's funeral.
The Times correspondent eulogized the fallen captain as a soldier who "had sealed with his blood the inspiration he received from Mr. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation," and noted that the scene called forth a single sentiment in those who witnessed it: "the struggle must go on until there is not legally a slave under the folds of the American flag.
In life and in death, Cailloux, an Afro-Creole who took great pride in his ebony color, helped to bridge the gap between Creole free people of color and slaves on the one hand and Anglophonic, Protestant blacks on the other. His wartime experience pointed to a growing alliance between leaders of the two groups and to their shared embrace of radical politics. Cailloux's heroics represented the zenith for black combat officers during the Civil War.
No other black officer figured so prominently in a major engagement, since most were forced out of the army within a year. With Cailloux's death, Union officials effectively buried the brightest hope for black combat officers in the U.S. Army. --courtesy, frenchcreoles.com
No known photograph of him is available.